Green, Gold, and Platinum

The new home of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory to be the greenest office building in the world.
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The new home of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory to be the greenest office building in the world.

Okay, so it doesn’t quite blend in with the mountains and it still looks like your typical office building (albeit super modern). However, the new building of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, Colo., has been certified LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum. When construction finishes in 2010, it will be the greenest office building in the U.S. (and possibly the world).

Ground broke Thursday, May 7, 2009, on the 218,000 square-foot, $64 million structure. The building will hold 700 of NREL’s employees. It seems a natural fit that this federal agency’s structure would go above and beyond LEED’s platinum qualifications – NREL researches renewable and efficient energy sources.

Not only will the building rely on wind and solar energy, but it will actually give energy back to the power grid. Other features of LEED-certified buildings include using regional materials, recycling up to 20% of waste output, and reducing water consumption by 20% for indoor and eliminating it for landscaping altogether. Construction and renovation projects are based on a 100-point scale, with a possibility of bonus points for design innovation and regional priority. LEED aims to increase the quality of the environment and the quality of life for local employees.

LEED is an internationally-recognized ranking system devised by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). According to the USGBC, LEED “provides building owners and operators a concise framework for identifying and implementing practical and measurable green building design, construction, operations and maintenance solutions.”

It’s pretty cool that one of the greenest buildings in the world is in my back yard. I think being in close proximity to the Coors brewery should gain it some bonus points as well.

– Adrienne Saia Isaac

Sources:

Ultra-green NREL building breaks ground

USGBC/LEED

Photo credit: NREL, via Denver Business Journal